In a recent speech on a new initiative to decrease carbon emissions, President Obama drew attention to recent changes in the National Geographic Atlas of the World, which shows the Arctic ice cap as the smallest it has ever been.
“Shrinking ice caps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart,” he said.
The polar ice cap has been melting for a while now, and National Geographic has been redrawing their maps to better reflect their size, the publication said.
“As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral,” National Geographic said in an article on the map changes.
In their most recent map, the 10th edition from September 2014, the white ice is much smaller than on previous iterations. The fifth edition of the map in 1989 was the first version to comprehensively map the Arctic.
National Geographic said, “The shrinking of the Arctic ice sheet in the 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World is one of the most striking changes in the publication’s history.”
Unfortunately, according to a process called the “feedback loop,” as the ice warms and melts, it reflects less light, therefore a warmer ocean gets warmer.
See how the ice has gotten smaller in the atlases from 1999 to 2014: